Five years ago, in an industry in steep decline, Riccobono Imprimeurs, in partnership with the Le Monde group, made a bold move: open a high-tech printing plant specialized in long run magazine printing. The industry had not seen an opening of this size in 30 years.
News Print is now a major player in the magazine printing industry. Located near Paris, it is capable of printing a mass-market magazine, such as L'Obs, 250,000 copies, in record time thanks to two high-performance machines capable of printing 65,000 copies in one hour, which is unique in France.
Printing L’Obs in 24 hours
L'Obs, which is published every Thursday morning, is a weekly date that the magazine has with its readers, and it is out of the question to be late. Therefore, when News Print receives the final layout, the PDF, the dispatch of the last printed copy of the magazine must be completed within 24 hours.
Tuesday 6pm: Final layout is received
Upon receipt of the layout, the prepress process starts immediately. Colors are checked by a specialized technician based on the quality and tone of the paper. Then, multi-page configuration is checked to guarantee the correct sequence after folding. This process takes just a few minutes and the calibrated file is then sent to the customer on a digital platform so that he can leaf through it, validate the page order and give his ok to print.
In order to offer its customers flawless quality, News Print is PSO-certified, an international technical standard that regulates calibration procedures to ensure optimal color reproduction quality. Thanks to these procedures, printed proof is no longer necessary. Adjustments are made automatically, and proofing is done on a calibrated monitor.
From graphic design to print
As soon as the customer gives his ok to print, the offset aluminum plates are produced with a large format laser printer. An issue of L'Obs usually has 128 pages, and since both machines print 64-page signatures each, they will run in parallel. As this is a four-color, double-sided printing process, there are 2 plates per color, which means 8 plates per machine. The plates are manually set up and the machine automatically shifts each color so that they superimpose perfectly.
Tuesday 7pm: installation of the plates & printing
Once the plates are installed on the cylinders, printing can start at a speed of 15 meters of paper per second (about 60 km/h), using 3-ton paper rolls that are 2,25 meters wide. During the entire printing process, the machine and 4 pairs of eyes will make sure that everything runs smoothly:
Color quality is checked throughout the printing process, not only by the machine, but also by the machine operator on a calibrated monitor
Cutting marks are set automatically and monitored by the operator
The paper feed is monitored by the feeder
The quality of the printed and folded product is checked by the receiver at the output of the machine, and a sample is collected every 15 minutes. He also monitors the palletization, which is also carried out automatically.
Tuesday 8pm: Departure of the first truck to the bookbinder's
For a magazine such as L'Obs, signatures binding is handled by another service provider, the bookbinder. While News Print machines are capable of producing a finished product, this is only possible for signatures without cover. The cover of L'Obs is therefore printed by Helio Print, another Riccobono printer also located near Paris. It has smaller (16-page) presses that are faster to start up and better suited to cover printing.
Every hour, a truck delivers the two 64-page signatures printed and folded by News Print to the bookbinder. The finishing process includes assembling, trimming and binding. The magazines are then packed for dispatch either to newsstands by press distribution trucks or labelled and filmed for mailing to subscribers.
Wednesday 6pm: Last copy of L'Obs is dispatched
At News Print, operations will end at 1 a.m., which will give time for the bookbinder and the dispatchers to ensure all copies are on newsstands throughout France on Thursday morning, and this, every week.
News Print, beyond technology, a human story
In a fast-declining industry, opening a new printing plant was a risky move. But what makes News Print different is its innovative and highly competitive positioning on the magazine, catalogue, and advertising printing market.
Innovative because, beyond the technical aspects, the project was aimed at reassigning and training employees from a printing plant of Le Monde, which was closing down. Those who were not reassigned to other printing plants in the Riccobono Group were trained to become a team of cutting-edge technicians operating state-of-the-art machines that are unique in Europe.
Competitive because by concentrating on a simple product, the magazine, News Print can offer outstanding quality long runs, thanks to the fastest machines on the market.
Far from being a factory from another era, News Print is resolutely turned towards the future and extends the human dimension beyond the employees of the printing plant. News Print is located in a pilot department for the protection of the environment, the Seine-et-Marne, and production is regulated by very strict standards. The company is PEFC certified for paper management and Imprim'Vert certified for waste management.